Medicinal Chemistry

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 15.5 k / Year(s)  
84 place StudyQA ranking:14288 Duration:24 months

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Master of Science (MSc) in Medicinal Chemistry

Are you fascinated by organic chemistry and designing potential drug substances? Then the master’s programme in Medicinal Chemistry is the answer for you.

As a medicinal chemist you can expect to find work in the area of the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotech industry that conducts research into new drugs – either as soon as you graduate or after completing a PhD course, for example, via the Drug Research Academy. The MSc in Medicinal Chemistry is a springboard to a research-based career.

The programme is offered in English.

Profile and Career


At the Msc in Medicinal Chemistry you work with the design of potential drug substances. Organic chemistry and synthesis development are the core subjects and the focus is on macromolecular and small molecule drugs.

You can follow courses on the rational design of new drugs, coupled with project work that provides insight into the use of modern computerized chemical methods in drug design. You can also take courses which deal with the preparation and modification of peptides and proteins as potential drugs, internationally a fast-track area of growth.

The focus on structure-based drug research and peptide modificationas core areas distinguishes the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences from similar programmes at other universities.

A bachelor degree in pharmacy, chemistry or medicinal chemistry for example, are an excellent starting point if you want to study medicinal chemistry. Contact us to find out more or if you are in doubt about whether you have the right qualifications for admission to the programme.

Examples of employment opportunities for holders of an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry

  • The degree qualifies the holder for admission to PhD programmes in organic chemistry and/or medicinal chemistry, for example, including structural chemistry and computerised drug design.
  • Patenting – positions in pharmaceutical companies and private- or public-sector patent agencies, for example.
  • Upscaling – process chemistry. Developing effective, safe, robust synthesis procedures for use in high-volume production of the active drug substance. Production is performed according to GMP (good manufacturing practice). The work also includes producing reference substances for analytical use and patenting.
  • Chemistry and manufacturing control (CMC) as an employee of a parent company or a CRO (Contract Research Organisation), that is, small, specialised research enterprises.
  • Regulatory affairs and QA/QC (Quality Assurance/Quality Control). Among other things, pharmaceutical companies are required to document that they develop and produce drugs in accordance with GMP. The skills of the medicinal chemist are needed for this and many similar functions.
Programme Structure

The two-year MSc programme in Medicinal Chemistry consists of compulsory and elective courses and a final thesis. All programme courses are taught in English.

Compulsory courses

Here you can read about the compulsory courses in the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry.

  • Reactions and Synthesis in Medicinal Chemistry
  • Biopharmaceuticals: Chemical Design & Modification of Biomacromolecules
  • Medicinal and Biostructural Chemistry
  • Heterocyclic Chemistry
  • Structural and Computational Medicinal Chemistry
Elective courses and MSc thesis

You can choose elective courses and a thesis subject to tailor a programme that matches your interests. School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PharmaSchool) and Faculty of Science follow the same academic year and course block structure, which means you can take courses at both faculties.

Here are a few examples of relevant elective courses offered either by PharmaSchool or Faculty of Science in 2013/2014. Please note that the courses offered vary from year to year.

  • Advances in Medicinal Chemistry Research
  • Advanced Spectroscopy
  • Applied Drug Metabolism
  • Drug Discovery and Development
  • Biophysical Techniques
  • Crystallography
  • Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation in Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Biopharmaceuticals: Formulation of Peptides and Proteins
  • Pharmaceutical Preformulation - Profiling Drug Substances for the Biomedical Sciences
  • Protein Structure and Function

You can carry out your thesis project together with a research group at the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences or at the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science.

At The Department of Chemistry master’s projects are offered by these research groups.


You can also choose to focus on an elective profile within the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry:

  • Biopharmaceutical profile
  • Organic Chemistry and Drug Discovery profile
  • Tailor-made profile
Double Degree with VU University of Amsterdam

International experience is very important for not only Danish students, but for all students pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry and entering into the programme.

In collaboration with Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam (VU University of Amsterdam), we have established a so-called double degree programme within the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen and the MSc in Drug Discovery and Safety at VU University of Amsterdam.

Double degree programme structure

If you sign up for the double degree and are enrolled, you will carry out year one at University of Copenhagen (UCPH) taking all compulsory courses and some elective courses.

After that, you will take year two at VU University of Amsterdam enrolled in the MSc programme in Drug Discovery and Safety. At VU University of Amsterdam, you will carry out your thesis and some additional elective courses.

You will have a supervisor at both universities, and you will present and defend your master thesis at both universities.


When you have passed all exams you will get a diploma from both universities stating you have earned the MSc title in Medicinal Chemistry from University of Copenhagen as well as the MSc title in Drug Discovery and Safety from VU University of Amsterdam.

At the University of Copenhagen and abroad

The programme has been developed in close collaboration with the pharmaceutical companies based in Medicon Valley and The Faculty of Science. As a student in medicinal chemistry, you will spend most of your time on the University of Copenhagen’s North Campus and Frederiksberg Campus. For some semesters it will be possible for you to take courses at other universities in Denmark or abroad. Likewise, there are good opportunities to write your industry-based thesis in Denmark or abroad.

All research groups involved with the programme enjoy close cooperation with relevant medicinal chemistry departments in pharmaceutical companies based on the Danish side of Medicon Valley. This cooperation is a key element of several programme courses as well as thesis-related work. The close contact established during the programme is also expected to play an important role in the transition from study to professional career.

To qualify for admission to the MSc programme in Medicinal Chemistry, applicants must have a relevant Bachelor's degree, courses in chemical and biological subjects, and meet the language requirements.I) Relevant Bachelor's DegreeApplicants must have completed a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, medicinal chemistry, pharmacy, or a corresponding qualification at Bachelor’s level.Applicants who have already completed a Master’s degree will only be admitted if there are vacant places. The same goes for applicants who have been enrolled on a programme of higher education on two prior occasions without completing a degree. In special circumstances, the university can make an exception.Applicants must have completed the Bachelor´s degree within five years of enrolment in the MSc programme in pharmaceutical sciences.II) Courses RequirementsApplicants must have accumulated at least 80 ECTS credits in chemical subjects in the subject areas of organic chemistry and physical chemistry, with the main emphasis on theoretical and experimental courses in organic chemistry.Applicants must have accumulated at least 30 ECTS credits in biological subjects in the subject areas of biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology and pharmacology, of which at least 5 ECTS credits must be in the subject area of general pharmacology.III) Language RequirementsScandinavian applicants (including Danish applicants) are required to document proficiency in English corresponding to at least English B level; cf. Section 11 of the Danish Ministerial Order on Admission at Universities.If you come from an English-speaking country and/or have completed your Bachelor's degree in English, this is considered to be sufficient documentation for your English proficiency, and all you need to do, therefore, is to certify that your Bachelor's degree was indeed accomplished in English.Applicants from outside of Scandinavia, who speak or write English as a second language, must pass the International English Language Testing System (IELTS/Academic) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to document their qualifications in English. The minimum acceptable score for IELTS is 6,5 and the minimum acceptable score for TOEFL is 560 on the paper test, or 83 on the internet-based test. For more information about the tests: and CapacityAdmission capacity has been set at 50 Danish and foreign students annually.If more than 50 applicants meet the admission requirements, applicants with the highest grade point average for all programme modules taken as part of the qualifying Bachelor´s degree, including the Bachelor's project, will be given highest priority. English Language Requirements IELTS band: 6.5 TOEFL paper-based test score : 560 TOEFL iBT® test: 83
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